Alberta Premier Danielle Smith deployed twelve sheriffs in downtown Calgary in a pilot project meant to reduce crime and help Calgarians feel safe walking the streets.
The 12-week project will begin February 27. The Calgary Police Service (CPS) and Alberta Sheriffs partnered on the project.
Increasing the visible presence of police and sheriffs is meant to provide more resources within the inner-city neighbourhoods where crime, homelessness, and mental health issues are rising.
“We can deter crime and make people who live and work in these communities feel safe while serving Albertans that need help,” said Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services, Mike Ellis.
Ellis said that the sheriffs aren’t meant to grab people and throw them in police cars.
“We know that tackling complex social issues requires collaboration and a multifaceted approach.”
Ellis further said the decision is about rights. Vulnerable populations have the right to access supports that can reduce the rate of committing crimes.
“But the rest of Calgarians, they also have rights.”
“People in Calgary deserve to feel safe in their homes and in the places where they work and visit,” Ellis said.
Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld said the sheriffs will be dispatched to high-need neighbourhoods. He said the success of the project will depend on whether Calgarians say it made them feel more safe.
This pilot project reflects an identical one implemented in Edmonton two weeks earlier.
Even Calgary’s mayor Jyoti Gondek supported the decision.
“Through many conversations with Calgarians and the business community, we have clearly heard the need to take further action around public safety,” Gondek said.
“We appreciate the province’s short-term support to reinforce Calgary Police Service efforts in our city centre. These additional resources will help connect people to the services they require, creating a safer, more supportive environment for all.”